Mark Keohane.
Mark Keohane.

Time to meet the person behind the player

By Siphokazi Vuso Time of article published May 29, 2020

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Cape Town - Zoom calls are the norm, as much as the rage, in how sport has been covered over the past three months.

With live sport only now starting to return globally and yet to resume in South Africa, sports coverage digitally and on social media platforms, which translate into print, has largely been player interviews with sports journalists, players and coaches taking to social media to do their own interviews with teammates, former teammates and coaches.

Sports fans have never before been more enlightened and entertained. Naas Botha, for one, gave the most extensive interview I have ever seen. He did it with seasoned rugby journalists Gavin Rich and Brendan Nel via Zoom. It was great to watch. Botha spoke with humour and insight and I found the interview more entertaining than anything I’d seen from Botha, as an analyst, on SuperSport.

SA Rugby Magazine editor Craig Lewis’ Zoom interviews have been particularly enjoyable, with this past week’s edition featuring former Stormers loose forward Sikhumbuzo Notshe. If you get a chance, watch it. Notshe speaks from the heart, and the interview is powerful and poignant.

We often only have an opinion on a player based on he or she's time on the field. Lockdown has given us insights into the person behind the player. It is one of the great positives to take from a temporary life without live sport.

Equally, it's a time to reminisce: over the next 30 days, Independent Media is celebrating the 1995 World Cup-winning Springboks’ 25th anniversary. Don’t miss it.

Players have given of themselves, in terms of access, but they have also given tangibles to help less fortunate people in these extremely challenging economic times.

They have made donations, started campaigns that speak to charities, and also given up some cherished memorabilia.

Bok rugby’s first Test centurion, Percy Montgomery, is an ambassador for the Princess Charlene of Monaco Foundation, and in the next fortnight he, along with several other sporting personalities, will be campaigning to raise funds for the foundation and for each individual’s own charity.

The #strongtogether initiative is about inspiration, hope, and the raising of funds. Montgomery is auctioning his 2007 World Cup-winning semi-final jersey worn against Argentina as the main prize, and also gifting a weekend at his penthouse in Camps Bay. He can be followed on Twitter and Instagram.

Among his charities is the Cape Town Children’s Home, which was where his late father spent his youth.

Montgomery is arguably most famous for kicking the Boks to a 15-6 World Cup final win against England in Paris in 2007, as well as for becoming the first South African to play 100 Tests in the green and gold.

But his kindness and generosity over the years have been as golden as the boot that guided the Boks in 2007 and if you interact, engage and make a contribution of any sort to his #strongtogether campaign, you also stand a chance to win fabulous prizes.

Each ambassador will auction something and Princess Charlene, a former South African swimmer and Olympian, will also auction an item.

#strongtogether is about uniting to do the impossible. To give and potentially win, see @pcmfsouthafrica

There is the possibility of winning a trip for two to the 2021 Monaco F1 Grand Prix to tempt you to part with some cash, but mostly there is the chance to make a difference to the lives of so many.

Sport, as the late Nelson Mandela famously said, has the power to unite.

And, in #Covid19, sport’s power is even bigger than unifying people. Sport, through those who participate and those who support it, has the power to save and change lives.

Keohane is an award-winning sports journalist and a regular contributor to Independent Media sport

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